Revolution, Revolt & Rebellion: What’s the difference?

My students are finishing up their dystopian fiction unit. My eighth graders had a choice to read The Giver by Lois Lowry, Animal Farm by George Orwell, or Unwind by Neil Shusterman. Throughout the dystopian literature unit students met weekly in literature groups to go deep and zoom in a particular text. When we got together as a large class we zoomed out to look at the larger themes, ideas, and concepts presented among all three of the texts.

This is the lesson that I prepared for my students, and my principal since she was joining the class for my formal observation.

The Essential Questions:  What role does rebellion, revolt, and revolution play in dystopian fiction?

How does the protagonist react to the repressive aspects of the dystopian society presented in the novel?



Objectives: By the end of the lesson student will be able to (KUDos)


  • The negative aspects of the dystopian world presented in their dystopian text.
  • Rebellion and revolt are synonymous. Meaning 1. an effort by many people to change the government or leader or a country by the use of protest or violence; 2. open opposition toward a person or group in authority; 3. refusal to obey rules or accept normal standards of behavior. (
  • Revolution as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary means: the violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one.


  • Dystopian fictions show a fine line between the idea and the repressive.
  • The protagonist in dystopian literature is a figurehead of rebellion who questions the existing social and political systems presented in the dystopian text.
  • Most dystopian literature presents a world in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a utopian society are maintained through different controls.


  • Use Smart phones to access pictures and videos using i-Nigma QR Code reader app
  • Make inferences based on images of revolutions.
  • Define rebellion, revolution, and revolt and apply these definitions to their dystopian literature.
  • Draw connections between revolutions in history and popular culture to the dystopian literature.
  • Identify the ideal and repressive elements in the dystopian literature that lead to acts of rebellion in the texts by completing a graphic organizer in small groups.



Part 1 – Do Now:  Upon entering the class students will be asked to answer the following questions on paper:

How you would define the word revolution? How would you distinguish a revolution from a civil war, an uprising, a rebellion or revolt, or a protest or demonstration? What examples from history illustrate your ideas?

Part 2 – Hook: Before we share our thoughts and ideas, students will choose two of the six QR codes posted around the room to scan on their smart phones. The QR Codes allow the students  to view an array of images and video in history and popular culture presenting rebellion, revolutions, and revolts. These images include: The Boston Tea Party, The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising during WWII, tearing down the Berlin Wall, Riots in Tehran, a scene from The Hunger Games, and Napoleon’s take over in France, 1789.  Students will look at the picture, read the caption, and make inferences about the images. Students are asked to record the image and date of the image on their Do Now Handout and then write a brief description of the image presented. Students are using critical thinking skills, visual literacy skills, and background information, to determine whether the event is a rebellion, revolt, or revolution.

Debrief Part 1 & Part 2:   Students will come back to their seats to share some of their working definitions of revolution, revolt, and rebellion. Ideas will be catalogued on the SmartBoard. Students will apply their definitions to the images from the QR Codes.  The teacher will post the pictures on the SmartBoard for students to share their responses and inferences. This debriefing will allow students to revise their definitions and create a whole class definition for: revolution, rebellion, and revolt.

Part 3 – Interactive Notebooks: Students will cut and glue an interactive foldable on Rebellion in Dystopian Literature into their English notebook. During this time the teacher will walk around the classrooms to check in with the different groups and support any students with special needs or questions.

Part 4 – Synthesis: Students will get into their small groups based on their book choices to complete the chart in their notebook applying what they know and learned about rebellion, revolt, and revolution to their dystopian book. In small groups students will identify the ideal and repressive aspects of their dystopian society and ways in which rebellion, revolt, and revolution play in their dystopian novels. During this time the teacher will walk around the classrooms to check in with the different groups and support any students with special needs or questions.

Part 5 – Closure: Students will complete the exit ticket that allows them to write one statement about what they learned today and one question that still remains. These handouts will be collected and used for formative assessment.  

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